New Year's resolutions for photographers

Instead of making the same ho-hum New Year's resolutions you break every year, consider these resolutions specifically for photographers. It's easy to fall into photography ruts. This year, make it a point to try new things, break old habits, and push your gear and talent to new limits.

  • Turn off Auto: Try venturing out of your safety zone and experimenting with your camera's manual settings. Start small by turning the exposure compensation up or down for a moody or blown-out effect.
  • Edit your images: The problem with giant memory cards is that you can end up with too many images. After each shoot or adventure, take time to sort thorough your photographs and mark your favorites. The star systems in Bridge, Lightroom, and Aperture are great for this task.
  • Back-up your images.
  • Work the subject: Don't just take one picture, move around and shoot every angle and perspective you can think of.
  • Fill the frame with your subject.
  • Pay attention to your camera position and associated focal length. These dramatically change the sense of space and proportions in your scene.
  • Learn to always note shutter speed, and to take action to prevent camera shake when shutter speed is too low.
  • Bend your knees—don't shoot every image from eye level.
  • Stop thinking that a new piece of gear is going to make you a better photographer.
  • Commit to practicing. It's the only thing that will make you a better photographer.
  • Study the work of other photographers.
  • Choose a long-term photo project.
  • Remember that you don't have to go somewhere exotic to take good pictures. Your own life makes great subject matter.
  • Don't use a regular flash outside at night. Instead, use your camera's slow sync flash feature.
  • Learn to use your camera's flash exposure compensation for better flash results wherever you are.
  • Try packing only an unfamiliar and limited lens and shoot with it all day. A 50mm or macro lens, for example.
  • Narrow your comfort zone. For example, if you're comfortable street shooting with a telephoto, use wide angle and get in the face of strangers.
  • Shoot (literally) from the hip.
  • Shoot as if there was no Photoshop.
  • Switch your camera to black and white mode.
  • Load your camera with the most limited memory card you can find. Recall what it's like to shoot with only 12 exposures, knowing every shot counts.
  • Resist using a flash in low light.
  • Break the habit of leaving the moment to examine every shot you take on the LCD screen.
  • Share your shots: Don't keep all those great new photos to yourself. Post them on Flickr, Picasa, MobileMe, Smugmug, or any other sharing site. Join a photography group and get feedback.

Share your own photography-related resolutions in the comments. Happy New Year!

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